It’s hard to imagine anything that’s been photographed more than the Eiffel Tower. Since it opened in 1889, the elegant structure has long been an iconic symbol of Paris, a destination for those visiting the city, a site impossible to ignore. For many, the sleek tower—effortlessly gliding skyward, spectacular at night—is a physical manifestation of love and romance. But it’s not as if the structure was always without its critics.
As the Erie Railway grew, so did the amount of data it had to wrangle: which superintendents were responsible for which set of tracks; schedule changes; who the various conductors, laborers and brakemen worked under.
As Caitlin Rosenthal writes over at McKinsey Quarterly, if any one data point was mismanaged it could bring dire results: “One delayed train, for example, could disrupt the progress of many others. And the stakes were high: with engines pulling cars in both directions along a single set of rails, schedule changes risked the deadly crashes that plagued 19th-century railroads.”
"Stay off gobbledygook language."
Seventy years ago, there just wasn’t a suitable term for those brain-scalding, rage-inducing concoctions of grammar and syntax masquerading as language. Well, Mr. Maury Maverick came up with one:
Here is his memorandum to the staff of the federal agency he headed, the Smaller War Plants Corporation; the first known usage of this faintly exotic, yet viciously accurate, addition to the English language.
Memorandum from Maury Maverick to Everybody in Smaller War Plants Corporation. 3/24/1944
From the series: Field Letters and Memoranda, 1943 - 1945. Records of the Smaller War Plants Corporation, 1940 - 1948
(Today’s post comes via Alan Walker, an archivist in Research Services at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.)
These days Mr. Maverick would just be seen as a rather outspoken proponent of what we in the government call “plain language.”
Maybe you call it “jargon,” ”legalese,” or ”doublespeak” — what’s your favorite term for “Gobbledygook”?
Even Phi Beta Kappa filled out a bracket. We selected the school with the oldest PBK chapter in each heat to progress to the next round. Check out our bracket and tell us your bracketology method in the comments.
All musical notation is a kind of compression, which is to say a compromise between ease of transmission and depth of reception.
The notes on a score tell you a lot about a song, but not everything. The same goes for guitar tabs, which tell you where to put your fingers, not what the notes are.
So, if you want to learn a song, it’s best to hear someone playing it decompressed, while using the notation as an aide-mémoire.
This isn’t an easy thing to do, especially in the repetitive way that’s necessary to learn a song.
Or it wasn’t until Adrian Holovaty and PJ Macklin created Soundslice, a beautiful HTML5 app that syncs professional studio recordings with sheet music and guitar tablature. Soundslice debuted in late 2012, but they released a new version of the software for sheet music yesterday, and it’s wonderful.
Read more. [Image: Soundslice]
February 24th 1803: Marbury v. Madison
On this day in 1803 in the case Marbury v. Madison the US Supreme Court established the principle of judicial review. The case arose when Secretary of State James Madison failed to deliver documents to Justice of the Peace for DC William Marbury which officially granted his title. The Court decided that the section of the 1789 Judiciary Act allowing Marbury to bring his claim to the Court was itself unconstitutional. On February 24th the Court ruled unanimously to this effect. The decision gave the Supreme Court the power to interpret the constitution and strike down laws as ‘unconstitutional’. Since then, the Court have made many high-profile rulings branding things unconstitutional. For example: school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954); school prayer in Engel v. Vitale (1962); teaching creationism in science lessons in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) and the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor (2013).
You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.